You’ve seen them before — those Forest Service Wilderness-Permit kiosks next to the trails that lead into a wilderness area. Before you use the trail, you’re supposed to fill out a short form that tells who you are, where you’re from, how many people and animals are in your party, and where you’re going.
And you’ve probably thought, “Seriously? I need to do paperwork before I ride a trail??? What’s the point, man?”
Three reasons to fill out a Wilderness Permit form:
- “Sorry, ma’am, I’m going to have to give you a ticket.”: If you run into a wilderness ranger and you don’t have a permit, you could get a ticket and pay a fine. Realistically, this isn’t a big risk because your odds of running into a wilderness ranger aren’t very high. But keep reading, because the other two reasons are important!
- Stand Up and Be Counted: The Forest Service keeps track of how many people enter the wilderness from each trailhead. They note the number of people in the party, and how many of those are on horseback. We hear equestrians saying that we don’t get as much attention from land managers as hikers and mountain bike riders, but if we don’t fill out wilderness permits, how can the Forest Service know how many of us are out there? Or which trails we like to ride? So, fill out a wilderness permit and let the Forest Service know equestrians are using this trail!!
- I’m In Trouble! Please Find Me!: If you fill out a permit and then you get lost or injured on the trail, Search and Rescue will have a good idea where to start looking for you. They can focus their search, and find you faster. You will lie in agony beside the trail for a lot less time if you fill out a wilderness permit.
So, do something nice for yourself and all equestrians next time you enter a Wilderness Area. Fill out a wilderness permit. You’ll be letting the Forest Service know just how much equestrian use that trail gets, and you’ll be found faster if something goes wrong while you’re riding.
For more information about the horse trails in Oregon and southwest Washington, go to www.nwhorsetrails.com.